Cough is tough: Do’s and don’ts to treat pneumonia at home

Pneumonia has to be treated with care. Not all cases require hospitalisation, so if you or any of your family members is dealing with the infection at home, follow these expert tips.
Follow this advice if you’re battling pneumonia. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Updated: 14 Dec 2022, 11:00 am IST
Pneumonia is a word that’s not alien to any of us, more so in the Covid-19 era. A disorder affecting the alveoli in the lungs, pneumonia is a common infection which can affect children and adults alike. India accounts for 23 percent of the global burden of pneumonia as per the World Health Organisation. Some cases can be as severe as requiring ICU admission, while milder cases can be treated at home.
What causes pneumonia?

According to Dr Rahul Bahot, Consultant, Department of Respiratory Medicine and Pulmonology, Jaslok Hospital and Research Center, the causes of pneumonia can be broadly classified into infectious and non-infectious categories.The most common cause of infectious pneumonia is bacterial infection. The risk of pneumonia is higher in people with compromised immunity, which includes those dealing with diabetes, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, malnutrition, congenital immune defects, heart failure and smoking addiction.

Viruses, bacteria, and fungi can all cause pneumonia. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
What are the symptoms of pneumonia?

The symptoms include the following:

  • Cough with production of/haemoptysis (blood in sputum).
  • Fever (may or may not be present at extremes of age)
  • Breathlessness leading to difficulty in breathing (takes short rapid breaths)
  • Increased pulse rate
  • chest pain while breathing/coughing.
  • The elderly patients have temperature-related loss of consciousness with increase in temperature which reverses when the temperature of the body returns to normal.

How can pneumonia be treated?

The treatment for pneumonia consists of use of appropriate antibiotics for appropriate duration, says Dr Bahot.Along with antibiotics, supportive care may be required in the form of:

1. Antipyretics to bring down fever
2. Anti-tussive to control irritating dry cough
3. Expectorants, Mucolytics, Nebulisations, acapella to aid bringing out of sputum
4. Oxygen supplementations with different types of non-invasive/invasive techniques to support breathing
5. Other organ support, if needed

Also, read: An expert explains why covid-19 pneumonia can be deadly in many ways

How to treat pneumonia at home?
1. Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your healthcare provider.
2. Take cough medicine only if you have trouble sleeping. Cough medicine can prevent your body from removing mucus from your lungs.
3. If you were prescribed an antibiotic medicine, take it as told by your healthcare provider. Do not stop taking the antibiotic even if you start to feel better.
Asprin may be helpful in protecting patients of pneumonia against heart attacks and strokes. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Avoid the following if you have pneumonia:
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. If you need help quitting, ask your healthcare provider.

Eat the following if you have pneumonia:

Eat a healthy diet. This includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein.General instructions to treat pneumonia:

  • Rest a lot and get at least 8 hours of sleep each night
  • Sleep in a partly upright position at night. Place a few pillows under your head or sleep on a reclining chair
  • Return to your normal activities as told by your healthcare provider. Ask your health care provider what activities are safe for you
  • Drink enough fluid to keep your urine pale yellow. This helps to thin the mucus in your lungs
  • If your throat is sore, gargle with a salt–water mixture 3–4 times a day or as needed. To make a salt–water mixture, completely dissolve ½–1 tsp (3–6 g) of salt in 1 cup (237 mL) of
  • warm water
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your healthcare provider. This is important.

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